Sunday, 11 September 2016


19:30:00 Posted by Steve Rowland , , , No comments
I was a bit flummoxed when I read the title for this week’s blog. 
What do I know about clouds?  Very little, that’s what.  I dropped Geography in what was then Fourth Year at Grammar School, shortly after I’d been ejected from the classroom for falling asleep during a black and white slide show on irrigation.  I didn’t know my cirrus from my stratocumulus – and now that was never going to happen.
Actually, the falling asleep episode hadn’t been the first time I’d been in trouble in geography.  I didn’t mean to be cheeky but I did believe in justice, and for some reason I always felt the need to go out of my way to ensure everything was fair.
It was a hot afternoon in a stuffy box of a badly designed sixties classroom.  Mr Packer, our Welsh geography teacher was halfway through a lesson on cloud formations – pretty boring to my fourteen year old ears.  Behind me in the classroom, somebody calls my name and I turn around.  Instantly, Mr Packer is swiping at the back of my head with a wooden ruler.  Ducking, I turn back around to face the front, whereupon Mr Packer spends the next few minutes telling me how rude I have been.  The caller is not even acknowledged, never mind reprimanded.  With hindsight (and with the draining experience of having since taught pupils who weren’t interested) I realise my turning round was probably the last straw for Mr Packer, who no doubt needed to let off steam.  At the time, however, I do remember feeling extremely indignant and hard done by.
“But Sir –" I whined, “If someone calls you, you turn around.”
Mr Packer was having none of it. “You didn’t have to look round,” he said decisively, and continued with the lesson.  I simmered quietly with the unfairness of it all, didn’t listen to a thing, and planned my revenge.
Cut to break time and I’m walking along the corridor with a group of friends.  I see Mr Packer ahead, about to turn into a classroom.
“Mr Packer!” I yell, grinning at my friends.  Mr Packer’s head spins around, a split second before he realises he’s been had.  I’ll never forget the question he spits out in that distinctive Welsh accent as he glares at me from a distance, “Are you the INSTIGATOR of this little joke?”  I go home and look up ‘instigator’ in my dad’s big, red Oxford dictionary.
And that, dear reader, is why I don’t know my cirrus from my stratocumulus.
These days, as a photographer, I love clouds.  They have the ability to make or break an image – and the best part is their names are totally irrelevant.  I can marvel at the big white, fluffy, cottonwool shapes; I can swoon at the orange sunsets with those long thin streaks scudding across the horizon; I can feel the weight of the gathering storm clouds, full of dark, impending doom.  They all have their part to play in creating drama or tranquility in a shot.
One day soon, I shall sit down with my grandson’s geography book and teach myself the names of each type of cloud.  And when I’ve done that I shall offer up a silent apology to Mr Packer, who is probably somewhere up there by now, nestled into a great, big cumulonimbus.
Clouds Over Mickleton, May 2016 - Red Snapper Photography
Clouds Over Mickleton
Dull sky
Black clouds
Valley darkens
Rain threatens
Quietly we close the door
Look longingly towards the fire
Then - no warning
Sun appears
Clouds turn themselves inside out
Scud across a brightening sky
Cotton wool shapes
Fighting for prime position
Fire abandoned
Wellies on
Camera seems to wink at me
I run outside
Stare across the glowing fields
And capture a brand new landscape
Thanks for reading, Jill.